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Potted Holiday Trees: Selection and Care

Small or large potted holiday conifers are fragrant, fresh and provide living beauty in the home, but which should you choose for outdoor planting, and how do you care for them after the lights and glitter are shed? The right care will ensure their longterm health. Here’s how to give them what they need for success.

Know Your Trees

When picking a live tree, know what kind it is, and […]

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Repotting Pot-Bound House Plants

Pot-bound root systems can no longer access adequate water and fertilizer.

There is no shame in harboring a pot-bound plant. It can happen to anyone because pot- or root-bound specimens come in all sizes, shapes, ages, and situations. The geranium or aloe that spent a luxurious summer vacation on the back porch may be bursting out of their containers. The bargain spider plant, purchased from the garden center at […]

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Plum Yew and Japanese Holly: Better Shrubs for Shearing

Some garden settings are just made for the stylized, symmetrical look of sheared shrubs. Likewise, some shrub species take especially well to being sheared into dense, geometrical shapes

An essential ingredient of formal Japanese gardens, French parterres, English hedges, and other stylized landscape features, sheared shrubs excel at providing structure or at balancing other architectural elements (such as pillared entryways and granite walls). To fill this bill requires a […]

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Small Spring Bulbs with Big Impact

When planting bulbs in fall, plant small. “Minor” bulbs can have a major impact in the spring garden. Individually, they may not measure up to bulbous divas such as Darwin tulips and large-cupped daffodils.  But combine a few divas with a chorus of lesser companions, and the real magic happens. Why have a quartet when you […]

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Beautiful Culinary Sage

In late spring to early summer, sage produces purplish or violet flowers (far right).

For better or worse, we live in the age of multitasking, when the ability to do at least two things at once has become a common goal. As we multitask through our days, we gardeners can’t help but ask our plants to do […]

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Managing the Five Most Common Apple Diseases

Don’t be afraid to grow your own apples. Sure, most varieties are rife with disease problems, but there are varietal exceptions, and smaller trees make management easier. Choosing disease-resistant apples and understanding care requirements will make for a reliably healthy harvest. Aspiring orchardists need not be discouraged.

Before and after steps can be taken to ward […]

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Gorgeous Garden Grasses of Fall

Back in the 1970s and ‘80s, pioneering garden designers like Wolfgang Oehme, James van Sweden and Piet Oudolf sparked an interest in garden grasses. That spark turned into a wildfire of bold, ornamental garden grasses, and now they can be found in public and private gardens all over the world. 

These stars of the informal gardens […]

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Good Garden Bittersweet and Bad

Both the bad and good bittersweet seeds are spread by birds, such as this red-breasted nuthatch.

When it comes to garden plants gone wrong, few have gone wronger than oriental
bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus).  Introduced from East Asia to Western
horticulture in the early eighteenth century, this twining vine was widely
planted for its ornamental clusters of yellow pea-sized fruits that open in
fall to reveal brilliant-red interiors.  Now
it’s widely reviled for its ability […]

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Perennials with Brilliant Fall Foliage Color

Of course, colorful trees produce the biggest show of fall, but it doesn’t have to end there. Lots of non-woody plants change color and pack just as big of a punch in a smaller package. Here are plants that you need if you want to electrify your waning garden with impressive shocks of perennial leaf color.

Perennials […]

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Chaste Tree For Bees, Butterflies, and Summer Blooms

Think of chaste tree (Vitex agnus–castus) as an equally showy but less invasive alternative to the ubiquitous butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii).  A shrub or small tree that behaves as a dieback perennial in the coldest fringes of its USDA Hardiness Zones 5b to 9 hardiness range, it bears candelabras of lavender-blue flowers from summer into fall, […]

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